Vatican Tells UN to Respect Parental Rights and Homeschooling

The Catholic Church is stepping up to protect the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit. The Vatican’s delegation to the United Nations called on nations to respect the rights of parents in bringing up their children the way they see fit, including using the option of homeschooling. It is nice to see the Vatican explicitly call out homeschooling.

It was interesting to see what is mentioned in this article.  Two groups that our family belongs to – the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and Seton Home Study School – praised the Vatican for this effort.

Also mentioned is that parents must not be forced to teach their children things contrary to the beliefs of the family.  This includes homosexuality, feminism, abortion, and evolution.

Check out the whole article, linked below.

Vatican Tells UN to Respect Parental Rights and Homeschooling.

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3 Responses to Vatican Tells UN to Respect Parental Rights and Homeschooling

  1. James says:

    I think it is worth noting, however, that the first 3 things you mention (homosexuality, feminism (at least the modern breed of pro-abort, anti-male feminism), abortion) are moral issues while the last one (evolution) is not. Faithful Catholics cannot licitly support issues of immorality but can disagree on issues like evolution.

    I only mention it because lumping the last one together with the first three could be misleading.

  2. Hi James. What you say is true. I mentioned evolution because it was explicitly stated in the article. Also, the Vatican was referring to the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children, and evolution is a controversial subject, especially among evangelicals and fundamentalists, who should not be forced to teach it to their children.

    I assume you know the following, but I put it here for others’ reference:

    There are limits to what we may believe about evolution – mainly that we can pursue the study of evolution of the body up until the generation of Adam. But it is to be held by all Catholics that Adam was an individual, not to be considered symbolic of a “beginning humanity”. Also, while evolution could lead up to the first human, souls cannot evolve. Each soul is individually created.

    This subject was dealt with in Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis. It is somewhat long (though nowhere near as verbose as those of Pope John Paul II). The first 34 paragraphs deal with philosophy, properly understood (especially Scholastic philosophy), and misconceptions regarding philosophy and knowledge.

    The last few paragraphs deal specifically with the subject of evolution. I am providing them below for those who with to reference them.

    Source: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis_en.html

    35. It remains for Us now to speak about those questions which, although they pertain to the positive sciences, are nevertheless more or less connected with the truths of the Christian faith. In fact, not a few insistently demand that the Catholic religion take these sciences into account as much as possible. This certainly would be praiseworthy in the case of clearly proved facts; but caution must be used when there is rather question of hypotheses, having some sort of scientific foundation, in which the doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture or in Tradition is involved. If such conjectural opinions are directly or indirectly opposed to the doctrine revealed by God, then the demand that they be recognized can in no way be admitted.

    36. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.[11] Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.

    37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.[12]

    38. Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament. Those who favor this system, in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer to the Letter which was sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies.[13] This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.

    39. Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things, which are more the product of an extravagant imagination than of that striving for truth and simplicity which in the Sacred Books, also of the Old Testament, is so apparent that our ancient sacred writers must be admitted to be clearly superior to the ancient profane writers.

    40. Truly, we are aware that the majority of Catholic doctors, the fruit of whose studies is being gathered in universities, in seminaries and in the colleges of religious, are far removed from those errors which today, whether through a desire for novelty or through a certain immoderate zeal for the apostolate, are being spread either openly or covertly. But we know also that such new opinions can entice the incautious; and therefore we prefer to withstand the very beginnings rather than to administer the medicine after the disease has grown inveterate.

    41. For this reason, after mature reflexion and consideration before God, that We may not be wanting in Our sacred duty, We charge the Bishops and the Superiors General of Religious Orders, binding them most seriously in conscience, to take most diligent care that such opinions be not advanced in schools, in conferences or in writings of any kind, and that they be not taught in any manner whatsoever to the clergy or the faithful.

    42. Let the teachers in ecclesiastical institutions be aware that they cannot with tranquil conscience exercise the office of teaching entrusted to them, unless in the instruction of their students they religiously accept and exactly observe the norms which We have ordained. That due reverend and submission which in their unceasing labor they must profess toward the Teaching Authority of the Church, let them instill also into the minds and hearts of their students.

    43. Let them strive with every force and effort to further the progress of the sciences which they teach; but let them also be careful not to transgress the limits which We have established for the protection of the truth of Catholic faith and doctrine. With regard to new questions, which modern culture and progress have brought to the foreground, let them engage in most careful research, but with the necessary prudence and caution; finally, let them not think, indulging in a false “irenism,” that the dissident and the erring can happily be brought back to the bosom of the Church, if the whole truth found in the Church is not sincerely taught to all without corruption or diminution.

    44. Relying on this hope, which will be increased by your pastoral care, as a pledge of celestial gifts and a sign of Our paternal benevolence, We impart with all Our heart to each and all of you, Venerable Brethren, and to your clergy and people the Apostolic Benediction.

  3. James says:

    Indeed. As far as I’m concerned, parents should have leeway to teach their children as they please, except under extreme circumstances. Trying to take away that right is heinous.

    Regarding Adam and Eve as individuals hardly seems to be a problem since even if one presupposes evolution to be correct, logically speaking, it is necessary that there was a chronologically earliest set of life forms that meet the biological definition of human; i.e. the first humans, who obviously are individuals.

    Personally, I reserve judgment on evolution. There are problems with the theory, but I think it has weight simply by virtue of being the only game in town. One may assert that God created humanity, but presumably He did it in an intelligible way. Though I much prefer religion to atheism, I simultaneously prefer explanations for the natural world that can be studied and tested. That’s not to say that there are no better possible explanations for the origin of life than evolution, but I’ve yet to come across anything that I felt to be a viable alternative.

    A topic that fascinates me, but I’ve never encountered ANY literature about it, is the relationship between physical mind (brain) and spiritual mind (soul). I wonder if anyone has ever written some decent work on that subject. It would obviously be highly speculative, but I’d be very interested if any theologians with some knowledge of neuropsychology have broached the topic. I might see about tackling it myself someday after I’ve had a chance to study neuropsychology and quantum mechanics in better detail. Understanding just how much heavy lifting the brain does in terms of higher-order decision making would shed a lot of light on the nature of the soul’s role in human nature.

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